Video credit: SpaceX
A thick marine layer blanketing Vandenberg Air Force Base in California restricted views of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifting off early Wednesday, but cameras fixed to the launcher provided spectacular imagery of the predawn departure with 10 Iridium satellites on-board.
The Falcon 9 took off from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg at 4:39:30 a.m. PDT (7:39:30 a.m. EDT; 1139:30 GMT) Wednesday on SpaceX’s seventh of eight missions for Iridium, which is replacing its aging low Earth orbit data relay network with fresh satellites.
Riding 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the launcher pierced a layer of fog and climbed through the stratosphere powered by nine Merlin main engines.
The rocket’s first stage made a successful landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” parked in the Pacific Ocean south of Vandenberg, following boost-back and entry burns to steer the booster toward its landing target. Meanwhile, the Falcon 9’s first stage continued into orbit under the power of a single Merlin engine.
The rocket later deployed all 10 satellites into an on-target orbit.
Read our full story for details on the mission.
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